Back from a lovely and much-needed weekend away with my hubby in sunny springtime Denver, I am in good spirits this Monday. Very good spirits. One interesting thing I read this weekend in the newspaper (while enjoying a luxurious breakfast in bed — just to rub it in a little) was about the first ever Rolling Stones concert in China this weekend, hailed as some sort of a cultural watershed in the ongoing, epic fight of rock ‘n’ roll against communism. Ha.
Chinese rock superstar Cui Jian guested with Mick on “Wild Horses,” and the setlist was, of course, censored: “Beast of Burden,” “Brown Sugar,” “Rough Justice,” Let’s Spend The Night Together,” and “Honky Tonk Women” were all not allowed, but “Start Me Up” somehow was. Oh, sneaky Mick. Apparently the Stones are still largely unknown in China, giving us the best quote of the night:
“So old, and yet he can really perform,” said concert-goer Song Jianghong of Mick Jagger, 62.
On that excellent note . . .
“Grace” (U2 cover)
Now, the original version of this song is so perfect that it is hard to improve upon it, but this is just different. I absolutely love the personification of the hard-to-wrap-your-mind-around concept of grace in this song (“and when she walks on the street you can hear the strings“) and Nordeman here makes it swankier and a bit jazzy with a grooved-out background. From the U2 covers album (by Artists United For Africa) In The Name of Love.
Jeb Loy Nichols
This was part of a so-called “Seattle mix” playlist I put together last May during a conference in that rainy city. It’s not evocative of the “Seattle sound” at all, but rather trying to capture to moodiness of the streets and the fog and the water. I really love this song: Jeb Loy Nichols‘ smoky and rough voice, very simple and understated guitar accompaniment, and satisfying images to hold in your mind (“ain’t got a roof, I got a starry crown”). This song is the embodiment of the word bittersweet, which is one of my favorite adjectives (yes, I have favorite adjectives). From his recommended 2002 disc Easy Now, available on eMusic (if you’re not signed up yet, click the banner on the right for some free downloads).
“Twice My Weight“
So these guys are a local Denver band (which cites Elbow, Sufjan, Coldplay, Trent Reznor, and Ben Folds among their influences) that my sister has been trying to get me to listen to for months now. Spurred on by the local Westword weekly, which had a feature on them this past weekend, I am giving them a concentrated listen this morning and liking what I hear. This track (from their Oh No EP) reminds me of something I cannot put my finger on – if you can call it, you get my undying appreciation. The best part of this tune is the second half when it gets all deconstructed. Check out their MySpace page for a few more tracks. A good one to stream off there is “Old Enough,” which the Westword reviewer said was like “like Death Cab for Cutie driven by Paul Simon.”
“Thriller” (MJ cover)
Speaking of Death Cab, I’ve been meaning to throw this one up for months because, well, it is just so freakin funny. Michael Jackson covers are usually a good idea if done properly, like Prince covers. Does anyone else feel like dancing in a graveyard, en masse? It might be a bit hard with Gibbard’s tempo here, but I think we could pull it off.
“Au Coin Du Monde“
I breathed a sigh of relief when Jennings decided to begin posting again on his fine blog (albeit in limited amounts) after threatening to stop (due to lack of time, whatever THAT means). As I told him, if blogging is in your blood, you must continue. You can run, you can hide, but you can’t fight the moonlight (or something like that). Here is a fabulous French chanteuse that he turned me on to, Keren Ann. This is from a live set he posted from an art rock restival in France. Check out her lush reinterpretation of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” as well. A little French mood music for your Monday.
And finally, kids: A Beatles album is coming out, featuring “completely new music.” Well, color me surprised; I didn’t know there was any of that left.